To Be Spiritually Minded
On January 5, 2008, Dave Harris will give the sermon, titled, “To Be Spiritually Minded.”
The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org at 12:30 pm Pacific Time (which is 2:30 pm Central Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.
Focus on Change
by Bill Koeneke
Paul asked the question in 1 Corinthians 5:6-7: “…Do you not know that a little leaven [notice the word “little”] leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven…” From this and other Scriptures we see that at times, leaven pictures sin. Purging out is of necessity a daily process of change—of persistent commitment to the responsibilities of our calling, including repentance from sin. Just a little leaven is all it takes to manifest sin. Paul tells us further in Romans 12:2 that we should not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our mind; i.e., by focusing on change. That transformation is the process of turning away from what is not acceptable in God’s eyes. It is an ongoing aspect of our everyday life. This can only be done through the help of the Holy Spirit.
This act of change starts in our mind. Aside from repenting of sin, there are other areas we may need to focus on, including our attitude, our prayer life, endurance in the face of trials, and faith. There should be no question that the outcome of our lives over the next few years depends on our willingness to continue to change—to shift our attitude and our actions in line with God’s ways. Unfortunately, it seems so easy to do otherwise. However, we either accept God’s ways and adhere to them, or we are on the road to failure. It is that serious.
Man’s value systems are geared around a kind of trinity of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (compare 1 John 2:16). That pretty well sums up the scope of man’s sins, doesn’t it? Lust and pride. While converted Christians are changing, they are still in that process of perfecting their lives.
Can we think of anything in our life that might well be holding us back from complete harmony with God? We need to think hard about that. It will take some honest self-examination as we match our life against God’s Word.
Paul congratulated the Church at Corinth on their conduct of change by stressing their diligence, their clearing of themselves, their fear, vehement desire, zeal, and their vindication (compare 2 Corinthians 7:11). If Paul was alive today, could he say that about all of us?
We need to focus on positive change, of turning around from this world’s ways, from unrighteousness, and from obsession with physical things, to unconditional surrender of our life and of our will to God. Nothing else will work to guarantee our future. God knows our frame, and He has given us His Holy Spirit to help us along the way. He wants us to succeed. Dare we let Him down? Dare we let ourselves down? There really is no other acceptable alternative, is there?
It has been said correctly that when our reason becomes sufficient we can change. What greater reason could we have to focus on change than what lies up ahead for us?
This Week in the News
2007–A Year of Failure For the West
Der Spiegel Online wrote on December 28, 2007:
“Ongoing difficulties in Iraq. A Taliban offensive in Afghanistan. And now the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan. For the West, 2007 has been a year of failure and missteps… The Thursday assassination of Benazir Bhutto is a huge, shocking and possibly even historic triumph for the enemies of democracy. Even worse, the attack was the gruesome culmination of what has been a successful year for them.
“It is also not reaching too far to say that the shots that fatally wounded Bhutto in Rawalpindi Thursday also killed off any hope that the Islamic world could find peace of its own accord in the foreseeable future.
“The West, too, is more troubled than it has been for a long time. The dismay in the corridors of government is genuine. US President George W. Bush’s statement, which lasted little more than a minute, was eloquent testimony to his speechlessness. This world power has rarely looked so powerless — and Bush has rarely looked so helpless…
“Bush will not be in a position to do much to end this conflict. He is a war president and an unsuccessful one at that. Even if he talks about diplomacy, it sounds like preparation for war. His partners in Berlin, Paris and London will have to act cleverly in this difficult situation. Any belligerence or crowing must be avoided so as to not damage the Western position as a whole. As strange as it might sound, this beleaguered president must be ushered into retirement with dignity and civility… The classic military intervention — Bush’s formula against the danger of terrorism — has not been successful up to now and will not be so in the future. And the situation in nuclear-armed Pakistan is clearly not one where any sort of military operation should be considered…
“But does that mean we should capitulate? Should the West sit on the sidelines sipping tea? Absolutely not.
“The West has to protect itself and its people with everything modern technology has placed at its disposal… And perhaps it is once again time for European diplomacy to open up a new way of seeing things to the Americans. In the altercation with the Soviet Union and the communist bloc, Europe found success. Many in the US were set on a confrontational course while Europeans preferred an easing of tensions. It was the English Prime Minister Winston Churchill, just eight years after World War II ended, who voiced his conviction that, wherever possible, a measured, more patient and less aggressive foreign policy was the way to go.”
Bhutto’s Assassination–the “Coup De Grace” to American Policy
The New York Times wrote on December 31, 2007:
“The assassination of Benazir Bhutto has given the coup de grâce to the botched American attempt to manage a nuclear-armed Islamic state. In recent years, Pakistan has been the home of banks that wired money for the 9/11 plot, been the chief source of illicit nuclear proliferation, offered a tribal-area haven for planners of worldwide terrorism, abetted the reconstitution of the Taliban and educated many a suicide bomber in Islamic religious schools. At the same time, President Pervez Musharraf, in power since a 1999 coup, has received about $10 billion in U.S. aid, much of it to reinforce the Pakistani military in fighting Al Qaeda, the Taliban and global jihadism in South Waziristan and other tribal areas. If a U.S. policy was ever broken, this is it.
“… the United States, out of misplaced deference to Musharraf, failed to secure Bhutto the protection she was demanding. Her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, visited the United States shortly before her death to plead for help, but was denied the meetings he sought at the top levels of the State Department… Bhutto’s loss is devastating, comparable with Yitzhak Rabin’s. Her Kennedylike family tragedy leaves the fathomless void of what might have been.”
Who Caused Bhutto’s Death?
The Telegraph wrote on December 28, 2007:
“The burial of Benzair Bhutto was today marred by heavy violence across Pakistan as a bitter row broke out over how she died… As hundreds of thousands mourned the murdered opposition leader, the country’s Interior Ministry claimed she had died from hitting her vehicle’s sunroof when she tried to duck after a suicide attack… But the explanation was ridiculed by Farooq Naik, Miss Bhutto’s top lawyer and a senior official in her Pakistan People’s Party. ‘It is baseless. It is a pack of lies,’ he said. ‘Two bullets hit her, one in the abdomen and one in the head. It was a serious security lapse.'”
More Unrest in Pakistan
Der Spiegel Online wrote on January 2, 2008:
“The unrest that followed the assassination of Benazir Bhutto has prompted Pakistan’s electoral commission to delay elections until Feb. 18. Opposition parties had demanded the poll go ahead on Jan. 8 and now warn that there could be more riots.
“Opposition parties in Pakistan cried foul on Wednesday after it was announced that parliamentary elections will be postponed until Feb. 18. The official line is that the delay was necessary following the unrest that erupted after opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated last Thursday… The opposition accused the authorities of using delaying tactics to avoid a defeat for the ruling party, which is closely allied to President Pervez Musharraf. Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) had been hoping to reap a strong sympathy vote in the wake of her murder… “The government had initially blamed the killing on radical Islamists linked to al-Qaida but many Pakistanis suspect the security forces of having had a hand in the assassination. The government insistence that Bhutto died by hitting her head on the lever of the sunroof of her car was widely derided. The PPP insists she died from gunshot wounds.”
Der Spiegel Online added in a related article on January 2:
“Al-Qaida, the secret service or a contract killer sent by President Musharraf? A gun shot, bomb shrapnel or a fatal blow to the head? Wild theories about the death of Benazir Bhutto are making the rounds in Pakistan — and are becoming levers of political power. The news from the United States caused quite a stir: Hillary Clinton, a Democratic candidate for the US presidency, hinted on Sunday that the Pakistani military could be behind last week’s assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto. Previously, she said in an interview that ‘there was no reason to trust the Pakistani government.'”
China–the World’s New Economic and Military Superpower
The Independent wrote on January 1, 2008:
“Here comes the world’s newest superpower. The rest of the world is gloomily contemplating economic slowdown and even recession. Not in Beijing. China is set to make 2008 the year it asserts its status as a global colossus by flexing frightening economic muscle on international markets, enjoying unprecedented levels of domestic consumption and showcasing itself to a watching world with a glittering £20bn Olympic Games…
“Britain will feel the full power of the new superpower’s confidence. This month, for the first time, China’s state-controlled banks will begin spending some of its $1.33trn (£670bn) in foreign currency reserves on London’s financial markets… But while some may question Beijing’s political motives, there is no doubt that China has arrived as serious power-broker. Last year, it surpassed America as the greatest driver of global economic demand. It is also widely predicted to overtake Germany as the world’s third largest economy this year.”
The Wall Street Journal added on January 2, 2008:
“Beijing’s military has also started to boast about its new weapons and war-fighting capabilities. Peace Mission 2007, cooperative military exercises in Central Asia in August, was China’s first large-scale foreign military deployment, and recent military maneuvers, apparently rehearsals to take Taiwan and disputed islands in the South China Sea, were remarkable in scope and sophistication… China’s military assertiveness has been matched by tougher diplomacy. Last year, a series of high-level meetings showed that Beijing has moved closer to Moscow to cement their ‘friendship for generations’ and confirm their opposition to American initiatives, especially to stop the Iranian nuclear program.
“China’s sustained campaign against German Chancellor Angela Merkel for meeting the Dalai Lama in September is also notably intense. China even threatened military and political responses over economic disputes… at last month’s session of the ‘Strategic Economic Dialogue,’ the high-level talks between the U.S. and China.”
For China’s prophetic role in the near future, please read the Q&A in this Update.
Unrest in Kenya
Der Spiegel Online wrote on January 2, 2008:
“The unrest in Kenya following the disputed election victory of President Mwai Kibaki is escalating into a tribal war. On Tuesday more than 40 people, many of them children, burned to death in a church after seeking refuge from machete-wielding members of another tribe. The carnage is starting to remind observers of the Rwandan genocide of 1994… Ever since President Mwai Kibaki, a Kikuyu, had himself declared the winner in an election that was obviously manipulated, the tribes of this east African country are at war.
“… the German head of the European Union’s election monitoring mission, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, is about to hold a news conference. Some 150 observers monitored this election debacle. The Kenyans have been eagerly awaiting the Europeans’ verdict on the election for days… Lambsdorff’s assessment is devastating. ‘The elections did not meet international standards of democracy,’ says Lambsdorff. He said EU monitors detected irregularities in two electoral districts where Kibaki won. In each of those two districts, the governing PNU ended up with 20,000 more votes than it received at the first count, said Lambsdorff. In five electoral districts, members of the EU mission were barred from the vote count, and in some regions the voter turnout was unusually high. ‘We have doubts about these elections,’ Lambsdorff concluded.
“Mwai Kibaki now looks isolated. On Sunday evening… he was hastily sworn in for a second term in a televised ceremony… But the United States, Kenya’s partner in the war on terror, has now distanced itself from him. After the US had initially congratulated Kibaki on his victory, State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey said Washington had serious concerns about the vote count.”
Germany’s Immigration Problems
Der Spiegel Online wrote on January 2, 2008:
“An assault by two foreign youths on a German pensioner has triggered conservative calls for a crackdown on ‘criminal young foreigners’ and exposed deeply entrenched xenophobia that casts doubt on this country’s ability ever to fully integrate its 15 million inhabitants with an immigrant background. The 76-year-old pensioner suffered a fractured skull when he was beaten by a 20-year-old Turkish man born in Germany and a 17-year-old immigrant from Greece on December 20 after he asked them to stop smoking on a subway train in Munich, where smoking is forbidden. The pensioner recovered after a spell in hospital and recalls how they spat at him and called him a ‘… German’ before kicking him in the head. Police arrested the attackers shortly afterwards…
“[Hesse state premier Roland Koch stated] that Germany wasn’t a classic country of immigration such as Canada or Australia. ‘In our country we don’t get many cultures meeting to form a new one. Germany has had a Christian-Occidental culture for centuries. Foreigners who don’t stick to our rules don’t belong here.’ His quote ‘We have too many criminal young foreigners’ made a banner front-page headline in Bild on Friday. The paper praised him in an editorial on Wednesday, writing: ‘At last our politicians are quarrelling about the really important issues — the safety of our citizens! Fear of crime and violence by foreign criminals [have] been accompanying us on bus and subway journeys for a long time.’
“Koch’s comments fuelled conservative calls for ‘foreign’ criminals to be expelled from Germany and were echoed by Volker Kauder, head of the conservative parliamentary group in the federal parliament and a close ally of [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel. Kauder told ‘Bild am Sonntag’ that crime by foreigners had ‘been a taboo in Germany’ for too long. ‘We need education camps for hard cases, closed institutions with an overall concept for therapy. Foreigners aren’t our enemies, but criminals are — and we can no longer afford to accept their mocking laughter’…
“Representatives from ethnic minorities say Koch’s comments reveal a key obstacle to integration in Germany. People living here are still widely labelled ‘foreigners’ even if they were born in Germany, even if they have German passports, and especially if they are dark-skinned…
“Criticizing immigration can be a vote-winner in Germany. Koch has successfully tapped the issue before, winning a 1999 state election after he launched a petition against government plans to introduce dual citizenship for foreign citizens living in Germany. The current conservative premier of North Rhine-Westphalia, Jürgen Rüttgers, launched a campaign in 2000 against proposed ‘green cards’ for Indian software engineers. The slogan of his campaign to give precedence to homegrown talent over skilled foreign workers was ‘Kinder Statt Inder’ — ‘Children Instead of Indians.’ In many other Western countries, a slogan like that from a mainstream politician would have killed off his career. Yet Rüttgers now runs Germany’s most populous state.
“Merkel herself suggested in a party conference speech last month that mosque minarets should be no higher than church steeples, following local resistance in several German cities to the construction of new mosques.”
Political Crisis Between France and Syria
AFP reported on January 2, 2008:
“Foreign Minister Walid Muallem announced on Wednesday that Syria was breaking off contacts with France on the political crisis in Lebanon, responding to a similar gesture by Paris three days ago. ‘Syria has decided to cease Franco-Syrian cooperation on the Lebanese crisis,’ the minister told a press conference in Damascus. He said Syria had been surprised by President Nicolas Sarkozy’s announcement on Sunday that France was cutting contacts, as it came just two days after Damascus had reached agreement with Paris on a comprehensive deal to end the crisis…
“Sarkozy accused Syria on Sunday of failing to match its words about wanting a settlement to the crisis in Lebanon with deeds on the ground. France ‘will have no more contact with Syria … until we have proof of Syrian willingness to let Lebanon appoint a president by consensus,’ he said. The French foreign ministry reiterated that position on Wednesday.”
Cyprus and Malta Adopt the Euro
The EUObserver wrote on January 1, 2008:
“The European currency is today replacing the national currencies of the two Mediterranean islands of Malta and Cyprus, bringing the number of EU states using the euro to 15 out of the 27 member states… They will add around 1.2 million people to the euro zone – some 800,000 Cypriots and around 400,000 Maltese – bringing the number of those EU citizens using the euro as a national currency to 320 million out of the EU’s total 495-million large population… Of the remaining 12 countries currently not in the euro zone, only the UK and Denmark have chosen not to adopt the European currency for reasons of economic sovereignty [while the other 10 countries have not made yet a final decision on that issue].”
Further Decline of the U.S. Dollar in the Future?
Bloomberg.com wrote on January 1, 2008:
“The dollar may extend a two-year decline against the euro on speculation a slowing economy will make U.S. assets less attractive to investors… The unemployment rate probably increased last month to the highest since July 2006…
“‘The U.S. economy will be pushed close to the recession level,” said Greg Salvaggio, vice president of capital markets in Washington… ‘There will be further dollar weakness in early 2008.” The dollar lost 9.5 percent against the euro in 2007, dropping to $1.4588, following a 10.2 percent drop in 2006…”
In addition, The Financial Times reported that Wall Street had the worst start to a New Year in 25 years. It wrote on January 2, 2008: “US blue-chip stocks on Wednesday suffered the worst start to a new year in 25 years after an index of manufacturing fell sharply, raising fears that the US economy is slowing more than expected.”
“Prosperity Gospel” Under Attack
The Associated Press reported on December 28, 2007:
“The probe by Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, has brought new scrutiny to the underlying belief that brings in millions of dollars and fills churches from Atlanta to Los Angeles — the ‘Gospel of Prosperity,’ or the notion that God wants to bless the faithful with earthly riches. All six ministries under investigation preach the prosperity gospel to varying degrees.
“Proponents call it a biblically sound message of hope. Others say it is a distortion that makes evangelists rich and preys on the vulnerable…
“Grassley is asking the ministries for financial records on salaries, spending practices, private jets and other perks. The investigation… has some wondering whether the prosperity gospel is facing a day of reckoning… Prosperity preachers say that it isn’t all about money — that God’s blessings extend to health, relationships and being well-off enough to help others. They have Bible verses at the ready to make their case… Critics acknowledge the idea that God wants to bless his followers has a Biblical basis, but say prosperity preachers take verses out of context…”
Even though we are not going to comment on the accuracy or inaccuracy of the “Prosperity Gospel”–whatever that (unbiblical) term may mean–it cannot be denied that God promises physical blessings to those who obey Him (compare, for example, Malachi 3:8-10). But generally speaking, governmental investigations of any Christian church, which might be conducted because of ulterior motives and/or which might attack or question Biblical truth, should be of great concern to all Christians.
Mary–the Mother of God and of the Church?
VIS wrote on January 2, 2008:
“At the first general audience of 2008… the Pope dedicated his catechesis to the Virgin Mary’s title of Mother of God… [He] recalled that ‘Theotokos’ or ‘Mother of God’ was ‘the title officially attributed to Mary in the fifth century, at the Council of Ephesus of 431’…. Following the Council of Ephesus, ‘Marian devotion underwent an enormous expansion, and many churches dedicated to the Mother of God were built… ‘All the other titles attributed to the Virgin Mary have their foundation in her vocation as Mother of the Redeemer’, he said: the Immaculate Conception, the Assumption, and Mother of the Mystical Body of Christ which is the Church. ‘It was right, then, that on 21 November 1964, during Vatican Council II, Paul VI solemnly attributed to Mary the title of “Mother of the Church.”‘”
Would you please explain the timing of the events described in the 38th and 39th chapters of the book of Ezekiel? Also, who are those nations which will try to attack Israel?
These chapters describe an attack of Gentile countries against “Israel.” Some have concluded that this attack will occur PRIOR to the return of Jesus Christ. Others believe that it is the same attack which is described in the 20th chapter of the book of Revelation; that is, at the END of the Millennium or about 1,000 years AFTER Christ’s return.
The truth is, however, that the events described in Ezekiel 38 and 39 will occur AT THE VERY BEGINNING of the Millennium–shortly AFTER Christ has returned. The attack mentioned in the 20th chapter of the book of Revelation is a different attack, which will occur approximately 1,000 years later. In fact, as we will see, the Bible records that there will be at least THREE future attacks on Jerusalem–the first one at the time of Christ’s return; the second one at the beginning of the Millennium; and the third one at the end of the Millennium.
Let us carefully review the context of Ezekiel 38 and 39.
Ezekiel 38:8, 16, tells us that the events will occur “in the latter years” or in the “latter days.” Verse 8 emphasizes that it will happen at the time when those living in the land have been “brought back from the sword and gathered from among many people.” We are also told that “they were brought out of the nations” and led to “the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate.” It is emphasized that they are NOW dwelling “safely.” Verse 12 also reiterates that these former “waste places” are “again inhabited,” and that the people of Israel, who were gathered from the nations, “have acquired livestock and goods.”
Since there will be no desolate mountains of Israel throughout the Millennium, and since the people of Israel have been living in safety during the Millennium, and since they were gathered out of the nations and brought to the Promised Land at the time of Christ’s return, it is clear that the events described in Ezekiel 38 and 39 do not occur 1,000 years AFTER Christ’s return.
Other passages confirm this conclusion:
Ezekiel 38:10, 14, 19 and Ezekiel 39:11 refer to the time in question as “in that day.” Normally, this phrase refers to the time just prior to or just subsequent to Christ’s return.
We read in Ezekiel 38:11 that the people of Israel will live in “unwalled villages”; that they are a “peaceful people, who dwell safely,” “without walls, and having neither bars nor gates.” This shows that the events will not occur PRIOR to Christ’s return, as the modern descendants of the houses of Israel and Judah — mainly the USA, Great Britain, Canada and the state of Israel–do not live in peace today, and they will not live in peace, without walls, bars or gates, prior to Christ’s return (For proof, please read our free booklets, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America,” and “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.”). Christ said that at the time of His return, there would be great tribulation–so great that no human being would be saved alive, unless He was to return to shorten those terrible days (Matthew 24:21). Also, Ezekiel 38:8 refers to the “mountains of Israel” where the modern houses of Israel and Judah will live at that time–but the modern house of Israel does not presently reside there at all, nor will they live there prior to Christ’s return.
Ezekiel 39 emphasizes in numerous places that God will destroy the invading army, and that because of God’s intervention, the nations, and especially the nation of Israel, will know that He is the Lord. Verse 22 states: “So the house of Israel shall know that I am the LORD their God from that day forward.” This is clearly a reference to the BEGINNING of the Millennium– not to the END when God has ruled over the world and Israel for 1,000 years. Verses 23-29 add that the Gentiles will know by then that “the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity”–a reference to the coming slavery of the modern house of Israel, prior to Christ’s return. Christ will free the modern nations of Israel and Judah out of their slavery when He returns–not 1,000 years later (compare verses 25, 27-28). It is THEN that God will begin to convert the survivors of the modern houses of Israel and Judah (verse 29)–not 1,000 years later.
Let us also briefly discuss the identity of the nations that will try to conquer and destroy the modern peoples of Israel and Judah. Ezekiel 38:2-3, 5, 6 lists “Gog, the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal,” as well as “Persia, Ethiopia and Libya,” and “Gomer and… the house of Togormah.”
“Gog” means “mountain” or “high” and seems to be a reference to a commander (compare also verse 7). Magog has been understood as a reference to the Mongols–or more generally, China; and “Rosh,” meaning “blond,” to the White Russians. “Meshech” is another designation for the city of Moscow, and “Tubal” for the city of Tobolsk. Meshech and Tubal, being sons of Japheth–the father of the Eurasian peoples–and brothers of Gomer and Magog (compare Genesis 10:2), seem to refer here to the Great Russians. Included in this entire description are the vast regions in northern Eurasia extending from the Baltic to the Pacific.
Persia designates modern Iran; and Ethiopia (“Cush” in Hebrew) includes the people of the state of Ethiopia, but also peoples in Central and Southern India and parts of Sri Lanka. Cush’s sons, Seba and Raamah (Genesis 10:7), and Raamah’s son Sheba (same verse), were later worshipped by Hindus as the gods Shiva and Ramah. Libya (“Put” in Hebrew) includes the people of the state of Libya, as well as people from Northern and Central India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Gomer seems to designate the peoples from Asian steppes and deserts, including people from the region of Mongolia. Finally, the reference to “Togarmah from the far north” (Ezekiel 38:6) has been understood as a reference to the people living in Siberia.
For more information on the Biblical origin and identity of modern nations and peoples, please see the Q&A in Update #126 (“Identity of Biblical Nations”).
What we find described, then, in Ezekiel 38 and 39, is an attack by a huge army composed of many Eurasian peoples at the beginning of the Millennium. This army will try to conquer and destroy the nations of the modern houses of Israel and Judah who will by then live in the Promised Land. At that time, the Eurasian army under the leadership of “Gog,” will “ascend, coming like a storm, covering the land like a cloud, you and all your troops and many peoples with you” (Ezekiel 38:9). This power bloc is beginning to form in front of our very eyes right now.
But when they attack, GOD will do the fighting for His people. Remember, the nations of this world who will be taught by God will not WANT to learn war any more, but desire to live in peace (Isaiah 2:1-4). And so, GOD will do the fighting for them (Ezekiel 38:21-22). He would do the same for our peoples today, if we would only let Him do so, submit to HIM and be obedient to His commands.
It is true that “kings from the east” and their armies will fight against Christ AT His return, but they will be defeated. Some have wondered how the Eurasian peoples could muster another great army shortly AFTER Christ destroyed their army. They claim that the army which Christ will destroy at His return will consist of “two hundred million.” However, this is not what the Bible says.
We read in Revelation 9:14, 16, that “four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates” were released, and that the number of the army, which will at THAT time be fighting against a resurrected or revived Roman Empire in EUROPE, will be two hundred million. That war is also alluded to in Daniel 11:44-45. (For further information, please read our free booklet, “Europe in Prophecy.”).
However, we read in Revelation 16:12, that SUBSEQUENTLY, an angel will pour out “his bowl on the great river Euphrates,” and that its water will be “dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared.” We are informed, in verses 13-14, that Satan and his demons will “gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty,” in addition to “the kings of the earth and of the whole world.” That place, where the armies will be gathered, is called Armageddon (verse 16). However, we do not read here that the kings from the east will appear at Armageddon with an army of two hundred million. We are not told how big their army is going to be AT THAT TIME.
In addition, no war will take place at Armageddon. The reference to the proverbial WAR at Armageddon is unbiblical. Armageddon (meaning Har Megiddo, and describing a great valley several miles away from Jerusalem) is just the place where the armies will meet. They will then move towards Jerusalem. The actual battle will take place just outside the city.
That battle is described in Revelation 19:19-21: “And I saw the beast [a military European leader], the kings of the earth [including the kings from the east], and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse [Jesus Christ] and against His army [His angels]. Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet [a European religious leader]… And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse…”
Another reference to that great battle can be found in the book of Joel. We read there that God will “GATHER all nations, And bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat” (Joel 3:2). We read in Joel 3:16 that at that time, “The LORD also will roar from Zion, And utter His voice from Jerusalem.”
A reference to that battle is also contained in Revelation 14:19-20, where we read: “So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the wine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses’ bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs [Lit., stadia, about 184 miles in all].” The same terminology is used in Revelation 19:15, describing the return of Jesus Christ: “… He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.”
In addition, Zechariah 14:2 says that Christ will GATHER all the nations to battle against Jerusalem, and verse 3 adds that He will fight against those nations, when His feet stand on the Mount of Olives. Verse 12 tells us about the plague with which God will strike all the people who fought against Jerusalem–their flesh, their eyes and their tongue will dissolve while they stand on their feet. We don’t know how many people will be fighting against Christ. In any event, there will be people LEFT who will not be destroyed at that time (compare verse 16).
Regardless of HOW it is possible that the Eurasian peoples will be able to attack Jerusalem at the beginning of the Millennium–after a previous battle involving them and destroying their army had taken place at the time of Christ’s return–it is clear that they will do so. At that time, God will again supernaturally intervene and destroy those nations, as we read in the 38th and 39th chapters of the book of Ezekiel.
A similar [third] attack on Jerusalem will occur about 1,000 years later, after Satan has been “released from his prison.” While Satan was imprisoned, unable to deceive the nations, this world enjoyed 1,000 years of peace. But with Satan being released for a short while, things will change. He will “go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea” (Revelation 20:7-8). As they did 1,000 years earlier, they will try to conquer Jerusalem, but God will destroy them (verse 9). Again, no human being will fight against those warring and attacking nations–it will be GOD who will do the fighting for His people.
This is the last time that we read that humans–deceived by Satan the devil–will fight. Satan will be removed forever, unable to deceive humans anymore to fight and kill in war. Ultimately, “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
A new member letter has been written. In the letter, Brian Gale contrasts the present terrible conditions of this world with the wonderful future which awaits us.
The text for our new booklet on the Sacrifices and the Tabernacle in the Wilderness has been sent to Shelly Bruno for finalization.
A new StandingWatch program (#150) has been posted on StandingWatch, Google Video and YouTube. It is titled, “What IS the Kingdom of God?, Part 1.”
In the program, Norbert Link explains that Christ said the blessed of His Father were to inherit the kingdom prepared for them since the foundation of the world. What did He mean by that? WHAT are we to inherit? HOW has it been PREPARED for us? WHY was MAN created in the first place? And WHO, exactly, created man?
Since we posted our StandingWatch programs on Google Video a few months ago, we are pleased to announce the following statistics: Our program, “America’s Illegal Aliens” was viewed 5,849 times; followed by “666, the Beast and Antichrist” (viewed 4,313 times); “Is Nuclear War Coming?” (viewed 3,404 times); “American Hiroshima” (2,295 times); “America’s Latest Phone Scandal” (1,637 times); “To Spank or Not to Spank” (1,620 views); “Ghosts of Departed Ones” (1,618 views); and “USA–The Fading Superpower” (1,581 views). Additional programs were viewed on Google Video from 1,505 times on downward.
As of December 28, the program, “Are You An Alcoholic?” received the most views (72) on You Tube (we began posting our programs on You Tube about two weeks ago).
Since October 13, 2007, the programs on “Britain and America”; “Why Keep Sunday?”; “The Law of God”; “Christmas”; “Mystery of Revelation”; and “Halloween” received the most views on our StandingWatch Website (from 163 to 83).
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This Update is an official publication by the ministry of the Church of the Eternal God in the United States of America; the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada; and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom.
Editorial Team: Norbert Link, Dave Harris, Rene Messier, Brian Gale, Margaret Adair, Johanna Link, Eric Rank, Michael Link, Anna Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson
Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank
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